Let Her Eat Prison Food?

In this age of teen star maelstroms, it may seem difficult to integrate what’s happening in pop culture into the classroom, aside from the occasional finger wag and warning “See? Don’t do drugs!” Topics like Britney’s panties (or lack thereof) might teach us useful lessons about concealing our private parts (actually, most of us probably have this one under control), but won’t fly in the classroom. How can we engage students in meaningful discourse that connects pop culture’s current events to important historical happenings?

My answer is blonde, filthy rich, skinny, and doe-eyed. The life of Paris Hilton, the self-anointed “iconic blonde” of our time, teaches us timeless valuable lessons that have tangible connections to history. Before you dismiss my idea as vapid, the same way you might dismiss Miss Hilton, allow me to offer some evidence to support my point.

Not since the storming of the Bastille in 1789 has there been such fervent recoil from the masses about the preferential treatment of the rich. None, that is, until Paris Hilton was recently brought up on charges for driving, not once, but three times, with a suspended license. Would she, like many other celebrities charged with crimes, simply glide with the grace of a ballroom dancer through the justice system, punished with only a slap on her bejeweled wrist? Not a chance. Enter the angry public.

The public outcry over Paris’s early release from prison was deafening. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors received “thousands of emails from the public on this matter.” Oh Paris, our sad little Marie Antoinette. Nancy Grace is calling for your head, and Anne Coulter is one of your only allies. Even Paris’s plea for the public’s empathy — “I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I’m not and that’s why I wanted to go to county, to show that I can do it and I’m going to be treated like everyone else” — was received as well as Antoinette’s attempt to dress more shabbily and appear more human, in that it was completely rejected.

Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip blog usually receives about 100 comments per post. However, when Perez solicited reader opinions on Paris’s sentence, the battle cries erupted, to the tune of 2,580 responses. Most were in the vein of this post by reader Preston, “Hell yeah she got what she deserved … spoiled b—- needs to go away forever.” Can I get a Viva La Resistance?

Paris Hilton’s Hollywood Hills palace, er, I mean, home, is even decorated in the tradition of The Hall of Mirrors, complete with several glass chandeliers. Are you getting my point? The possibilities are endless.

Elizabeth Haas is a graduate student at Hofstra University in Uniondale, NY. She can be reached at lizzyhaas@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Elizabeth, or visit Elizabeth's website.